Tell Stories – Build Trust

Uncommon Bond: What is your story?

I was part of an extraordinary work team during the 90s. The members were smart and talented to be sure. But what really made this team special was an uncommon bond of trust that we built by telling stories.

Most members of the team were recent college grads, and were at the front end of their careers. Their generation is different from mine; they insisted that the first step in creating bonds of trust is to build rapport based on shared experiences and mutual understanding. They believed that it’s difficult to work with someone you don’t trust, and it’s even harder to trust someone you don’t know. Despite the demands of our fast-paced and hectic work, they looked for opportunities for us to hear one another’s stories.

They prioritized storytelling in weekly meetings, over lunch, and during staff getaways.

At first I just observed, avoided participation, and quietly chalked up their “sharing” as a touchy-feely waste of time. But soon I got to know their histories, their sweet spots, and their passions. I began to see them in 3D, far more than functional staff sitting in their cubicles. Patiently they helped me to tell my story too. And trust grew among us so that were at our best working together.

This incredible experience showed me that effective leaders find a way to build relationships.
I learned from these younger coworkers that to build trust with someone, a great question is: “What is your story?”

No matter what your profession may be, if you take the time to get to know the people around you – and let them get to know you – then it will establish a higher level of trust and raise everybody’s game.

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